Isabel Leonard

Isabel Leonard

The Music Academy is revealing its plans for the 75th Anniversary Summer Festival. This milestone year has been propelled by three sold-out concerts by the London Symphony Orchestra in March and three Competition Winners recitals in April.

More than 100 Summer Festival events will take place in six venues on the academy campus, Miraflores, and historic theaters in downtown Santa Barbara.

“We plan to give the fellows the tools to help them become great musicians and great leaders,” said Scott Reed, Music Academy of the West president/CEO. “This is a collaborative, nurturing environment where their innovation and creativity will be stoked in unexpected, dynamic, and relevant ways to help them realize their far-reaching impact.

“Our toolbox is full of possibilities with new curriculum, entrepreneurial advisors and training, and an appetite for progress.”

Highlighting the anniversary year is the return of a premier Metropolitan Opera star, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. The evening begins with strolling cocktails, followed by an al fresco dinner and performance by Leonard and Academy alumna artist pianist Nino Sanikidze.

Leonard will receive the Academy’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, for her remarkable international career. Proceeds benefit the Academy’s Sing! Children’s Chorus, Community Access tickets, and full scholarships for fellows.  

Each year extraordinary Mosher guest artists are in residence during the Summer Festival to perform and share their artistry through private lessons and public masterclasses. Augustin Hadelich will perform Maurice Ravel’s “Second Violin Sonata.” Violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery will coach fellows for a concert programmed entirely of her works.

Susanna Phillips will perform a recital in collaboration with the academy’s Lehrer Vocal Institute Director of Music John Churchwell. Sō Percussion will perform in concert with fellows through contemporary works that include a world premiere by Robyn Cee Kay Jacobs. 

Pianist Jeremy Denk, an academy artist since 2015, will perform alongside fellows and in solo works in recital. His program consists of works by Johannes Brahms, Charles Ives, Scott Joplin, Missy Mazzoli, and Franz Schubert. 

The Lehrer Vocal Institute welcomes award-winning composer-in-residence Tom Cipullo. Alumna mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke will perform a world premiere of his in collaboration with Churchwell, and the fellows will perform an evening of Cipullo’s works in an enhanced performance with staging and lighting, directed by Sara E. Widzer.

A new program, Hahn Hall 1922-2022: An Original Cabaret, will be directed by James Darrah, and alumnus Craig Terry will serve as music director. 

High points of the annual Summer Festival are Academy Festival Orchestra concerts. This year, the ensemble performs Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” and Sergei Prokofiev’s “Suite from Romeo and Juliet” under the direction of Larry Rachleff in its concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl as a gift to the community. The concert and all 4,500 tickets to the performance are subsidized with a gift in remembrance of Léni Fé Bland, allowing them to be offered for $10 and all 7-17s may attend free with ticketed adults.

“Léni Fé Bland is a philanthropic icon and she was a champion of classical music and education. Her legacy continues through this gift from her estate,” said Eileen Sheridan, board chair.

Additional Academy Festival Orchestra concerts will feature Hannu Lintu at the podium for Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan,” conductor Stephane Denève leading Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe Suite No. 2;” Teddy Abrams conducting his own work, “Sixth Floor¸” along with Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, “Classical.”

Following her La Scala debut, alumna Speranza Scappucci infuses the Lehrer Vocal Institute fellows into the final performance of the summer with opera and zarzuela scenes before the conclusion of Ottorino Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome.”

Returning to a full opera production for the first time since 2019, principal opera conductor Daniela Candillari and director Peter Kazaras team up to lead Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.” The all new sets and costumes will give a nod to the academy’s founding in 1947 and one of its founders, Lotte Lehmann. 

A new chamber music curriculum pairing fellows with academy artists for intensive coachings will result in a group of five intimate and casual evening performances in Lehmann Hall called Chamber Nights. These will be programmed with full-length masterworks and music of the 21st century.

Composer-in-residence Molly Joyce has been commissioned for string quartet and solo voice/toy organ that will be premiered on a concert of her music performed by academy fellows. Her work focuses on disability as a creative source. 

Fellows will compete for the opportunity to be presented in recitals with world premieres commissioned for them in the three major performance competitions, the Duo (Christopher Cerrone), Solo Piano (Stewart Goodyear), and Marilyn Horne Song Competitions (Tom Cipullo). They may also enter the Fast Pitch Competition to pitch new projects to a jury of innovators. All competition winners will receive cash awards. 

More than 70 masterclasses will take place weekdays in all three venues on the academy campus, in Hahn, Lehmann and Weinman halls.

Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC) founder and MacArthur Award winner Francisco J. Nuñez will bring together his YPC National Lab and Studio with the Music Academy Sing! Children’s Chorus in a demonstrative workshop for young musicians and conductors, finishing in a joint performance in Hahn Hall.

YPC utilizes their model to bring together children of various backgrounds to sing at the highest artistic level. In turn, they gain understanding, appreciation, and mutual respect for cultures and identities that enrich the communities they live in.

Hahn Hall will be transformed in a daring new presentation by award-winning music director Craig Terry and director James Darrah. The originally devised cabaret of music and theater transports audiences to 1922 in an original story inspired by the politically charged Weimar German Republic and Berlin cabaret culture.

In partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, five musicians will coach and audition orchestral fellows to win an opportunity to go to London this fall to perform with the LSO under the direction of principal guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda.

Thanks to generous sponsorship, every event during the Academy’s Summer Festival welcomes young people ages 7-17 free with ticketed adults and has a portion of the tickets available at $10, first-come, first-served. The 7-17s Free are available along with subscriptions or individual tickets.

Subscriptions will be on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 18. Individual tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 2. The $10 community access tickets will be made available for all events at 10 a.m. Friday, June 10.